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· Poet Laureate
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1,511 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Dear SCWF Friends (whom I've never even talked to nor seen pictures of... but I feel like I know you all),

It has been three and a half years since I joined SCWF and first felt that pangs of envy from your cavalcade of fancy wrist shots. Now, in a fit of "keeping up with the Joneses" I've gone and done something rash and bought the blingiest most expensive Seiko ever made. You all drove me to this.
The year was 1973 and quartz watches were the most expensive watches in the catalogs of everyone who made them. Seiko was two years into the evolution of its second family of quartz movements the 38SQ family, which included the venerable 3823 Quartz V.F.A. You all probably know this movement from it's steel variants, which are relatively common, or maybe you followed the saga of my 3823-7030 with the hammered golden case and paper dial. That was nothing compared to what arrived today.
First released in 1972, the 3823-5005 was the pinnacle of Seiko's craftsmanship as a jewelry maker. The bracelet is a masterpiece of gold smithing, with nearly invisible hinges and a beautiful hammered texture that covers the entire bracelet and case. The crystal is faceted with 5 distinct horizontal planes, and bows out at the sides like an AP Code 11.59. The dial has a sumptuous silver crinkle texture like. Only Patek could match this.
I bought this with a big bid on YJ, and while it wasn't cheap, I was delighted to get it for $2,000 under my max bid, so it feels like a steal to me. I don't know if it works. It's going to take a jeweler to get the case open without destroying it, so I'll find out tomorrow. If the module is toast, it's no big deal. I have steel donors, including one with a 3823 movement serviced by Duncan last year. In fact, it's the ready available supply of donor watches on eBay that make me comfortable buying these precious metals quartz pieces (unlike say a 35SQ Quartz-Astron. which is irreparable if it just stops one day). The bracelet clasp has two positions (you can't make extension links for this type), and while I can squeeze it on, it's too tight, so I'm buying an extender. American men just have bigger wrists, I guess.
The 3823-5005 first appeared in the 1972 special luxury supplement with a price of 695,000 yen, which was $2290 in 1972 and is $16,259.93 in 2023 dollars. It was the 2nd most expensive watch in the catalog that year after the gold 3922 with the gold bracelet. These were only sold in a few high end boutiques in Tokyo. They were never exported. Next year, they raised the price to 956,000 yen, or $24,115 in today's dollars. A 2nd variant with a brown dial, was 1,000,000 yen ($25,224) and was the most expensive watch they sold that year. Ok, so I guess my watch is the 2nd most expensive Seiko ever made, but I've never seen nor heard of the brown dial variant surfacing. There are no photos of it on the Internet outside of the original catalog photo. As far as I can tell Seiko didn't make a more expensive watch until the platinum Grand Seikos of the last decade.
A full set 3823-5005 sold on Chrono24 recently that was listed at $17,000, though I don't know what it actual transacted at. Suffice to say that's FAR more than I paid, but I don't have B&P. Mine has a lovely patina on the gold that has built up over decades, which gives it a stately more subdued look. The C24 watch had been cleaned and sparkled like diamonds. The C24 listing mentioned that some of these were smelted for scrap in the 90s, though how they know that I have no idea. The only other traces of this model are a few Japanese auction photos that were probably the C24 watch in a previous sale. That means this thing is really rare. Maybe one of two surviving even.
Ok, so it's bleepin' ugly, but it's a lovable ugly. Yes it was sold as a man's watch believe it or not. Men were different then; more secure, and more confident in themselves. I'll certainly rock it with pride, because that's the kind of guy I am. Enough talking. Here she is:
Watch Analog watch Wood Clock Wrist

Watch Wood Clock Jewellery Circle

Wood Font Circle Trunk Natural material

Wood Measuring instrument Tool Circle Metal

Watch Analog watch Artifact Clock Watch accessory


Rectangle Material property Font Tints and shades Metal

Gold Artifact Water Liquid Sculpture

Gold Wood Natural material Jewellery Metal

Watch Body jewelry Analog watch Clock Finger

Hand Human body Gold Gesture Finger
 

· Poet Laureate
Joined
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1,511 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Here are the 1972 and 1973 special luxury supplement catalog shots (thanks to Anthony Kable at plus9time). If you ever see the brown variation, please reach out to me. I've also posted a photo of the cleaned C24 watch. Without the patina, this thing SHINES.
Watch Gesture Font Clock Metal

Watch Font Wood Nickel Metal


Watch Analog watch Clock Watch accessory Measuring instrument
 

· Special Member
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4,187 Posts
I just had no idea. Congratulations!!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

· Special Member
Joined
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9,687 Posts
WOW this is a really spectacular catch, congratulations in a major way. What a beauty. And so rare, such an amazing example of how SEIKO craftmanship can be at the top of the watch industry when they put their efforts into a luxury watch.

Being V.F.A. I'll bet it puts many a SpringDrive and such of today to shame for accuracy, too.
 

· Poet Laureate
Joined
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1,511 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·

· Premium Member
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461 Posts
Wow, what a rare piece. As soon as I saw it....I pictured someone dancing the nigh away in a disco in the 1970s. You have a super nice time piece, thanks for sharing with us!!
 
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